Bad Karma: Our Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid breaks down

Consumer Reports Staff

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Our Fisker Karma cost us $107,850. It is super sleek, high-tech—and now it’s broken.

We have owned our car for just a few days; it has less than 200 miles on its odometer. While doing speedometer calibration runs on our test track (a procedure we do for every test car before putting it in service by driving the car at a constant 65 mph between two measured points), the dashboard flashed a message and sounded a “bing“ showing a major fault. Our technician got the car off the track and put it into Park to go through the owner’s manual to interpret the warning. At that point, the transmission went into Neutral and wouldn’t engage any gear through its electronic shifter except Park and Neutral.

We let the car sit for about an hour and restarted it. We could now engage Drive and the same error message disappeared. After moving it only a few feet the error message reappeared and when we tried to engage Reverse the transmission went straight to Park and again no motion gear could be engaged. After calling the dealer, which is about 100 miles away, they promptly sent a flatbed tow truck to haul away the disabled Fisker.

We buy about 80 cars a year and this is the first time in memory that we have had a car that is undriveable before it has finished our check-in process.

Building an all-new car company from the ground up is a monumental challenge, especially for a car with innovative drivetrain technology like the Karma. Designing, engineering, certification, manufacturing, and distributing an all-new car pose giant hurtles for a start-up company.

We encountered other problems with a Karma press car that visited the track for a few hours, and we have heard of problems at press events. In addition, we see that some owners are experiencing a variety of issues, as evidenced by forums such as FiskerBuzz.com.














When we get the car back, we’ll film a First Drive video with our more traditional initial impressions. But so far, Fisker ownership is proving to be a bumpy ride.